WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has signed a cooperative agreement with the Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA) Program.
LFPA empowers states, tribes, and territories through cooperative agreements to provide for their communities with the purchase of domestic local foods in support of local, regional, and underserved and tribal farmers and ranchers. In September, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA is providing an additional nearly $500 million of Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds for this program, bringing the total funds for this program to nearly $900 million.
The USDA is further announcing a series of new flexibilities to support states, tribes, and territories. States, territories and tribes not currently participating in this program will be able to apply, and current recipients will be allowed to extend their programs an extra year. In addition, in response to tribal needs and input, USDA will use a nationwide funding allocation of $100 million to better support tribal applicants and better consider the needs across Indian Country. Twenty five tribes participated in the first funding round, and with this new opportunity, AMS will be seeking additional proposals from other tribes. State and territory agencies will continue to receive funds consistent with initial LFPA allocations.
Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt and USDA Office of Tribal Relations Director Heather Dawn Thompson announced the funding for the first tribe in the Mid-Atlantic region during a visit with the Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division, in Providence Forge, VA. The tribe recently signed a cooperative agreement with USDA and will receive more than $446,000 to support food sovereignty efforts by purchasing and distributing locally grown, produced, and processed food from underserved and tribal producers. With the LFPA funds, the tribe will purchase local meats and produce from farms in their area, which will improve their local agricultural community and raise awareness about the benefits of purchasing locally.
“Producers and community leaders are enthusiastic about the novel, unique approach the Local Food Purchase Assistance Program offers to meet nutrition needs locally, while supporting local and regional producers and serving nutrition assistance programs, including food banks, schools and organizations that reach underserved and tribal communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The continuation of this program will advance food sovereignty and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency and increase access to local foods by giving states, tribal governments and territories the power to procure and distribute nutritious foods that meet the needs of their populations.”
“USDA is thrilled to partner with the Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers,” said Director Thompson. “The LFPA program is an exciting new tool for tribal nations looking to support their Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives and local producers.”
“We are excited to gain access to the resources made available through the LFPA and appreciate the opportunity granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Gerald ‘Jerry’ Stewart, Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division. “The cooperative agreement will assist tribal families and others by supplementing food programs as well as the local economy and farming industry in a positive and meaningful way. The cooperative agreement allows us to build relationships with local farmers while contributing to food stability for families, especially with the rising costs resulting from the pandemic and inflation. The grant funds will aid in pandemic recovery efforts through preserving and promoting the overall health and well-being of individuals and families by alleviating some of the cost burdens faced due to the current economic environment.”
USDA’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program provides up to almost $900 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements to enable state, territory, and tribal governments to support local, regional and underserved and tribal producers, and maintain or improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination. Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan and the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Since April 2022, AMS has established more than 70 cooperative agreements between states, tribal governments, and territories that have provided their organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, and meet the needs of the population within their service area.
AMS will continue to partner with state, territory and tribal governments through these innovative agreements to procure and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious, and unique to their geographic area.
Information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage and via [email protected]. More information about the additional funding will be available soon. USDA is taking other steps to support tribal food sovereignty interests through the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative.